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Business Skills: Course Outline (IDBSK001)

You can't do business without business skills. These skills are basic skills such as communication, influencing, negotiation and line management.

Course Outline

A: Effective learning

i)  Introduce students to the module and its focus on a range of skills that will both benefit them during their studies and later in their business careers.

ii)  Understand and be able to explain the difference between active and passive learning.

iii) Understand what is expected of students as independent learners including:( Taking responsibility for their own learning;  Developing a range of relevant study skills including: listening skills, writing skills and presentation skills; Making the most of lectures, tutorials / seminars and lecturers ;Maintaining motivation; Effective time management; Effective planning skills; Willingness to work with others; Identifying how, where you learn best

iv)  Understand and explain the difference between: (Conscious learning; Unconscious learning; Reflective learning)

v)   Understand, explain a range of learning styles / theories, identify their own style and how to maximise their learning using that style. For example: (Kolb’s learning styles; Kolb’s four stage cycle of learning; Honey and Mumford’s Learning styles)

B: Personal Development planning

i)   To give students the opportunity to assess / audit their current skills and qualities relevant to the areas covered by this module.

ii)   Understand their current skills base and develop an appropriate personal development / action plan containing specific, measurable, achievable, timed and realistic objectives.

iii)  Understand the need to and demonstrate the ability to frequently and regularly monitor and update a / their own personal development plan and record progress / lack of progress.

iv)   Understand the need to and importance of developing and maintaining a personal portfolio and the ability to create a personal portfolio

v)    Understand the need for and importance of continuous personal development planning during both their academic and professional careers and links with professional development and the professional development requirements of certain professions.

C: Planning techniques

i)   To introduce students to plan their studies and the key components of project management.

ii)   Understand and be able to explain the difference between urgent and important and how to prioritise tasks

iii)  Understand and be able to resolve some common planning problems including: (Failing to plan; Aiming for perfection; Distractions; Conflicting commitments; Disorganization).

iv)   Students should be given practical exercises that will enable them to both assess and develop their time management skills

v)   Students should be given the opportunity to prepare their own study plan and to review it at regular intervals.

D: Academic and business writing and an introduction to research skills.

i)    To introduce students to the importance of academic and business writing skills.

ii)   Students should be familiar with and able to produce a range of written business formats including: (Email; Memo; Report; Meeting Minutes; Briefing Papers)

iii)   Students should be able to understand and apply the basic structure of a business report such as: ( Introduction; Main Topics; Conclusions; Reference and Biblipgraphy)

iv)    Students should be aware of the need to reference material that is not their own.

v)    Research skills Part I: To introduce students to the need for research and to enable them to apply a range of relevant research methods with specific reference to those most appropriate for assessments.

vi) Understand that research is a process of inquiry and investigation that can enable them to learn, discover, confirm or clarify.
Understand: (the role of a literature review; the need for clear research objectives; the difference between primary and secondary research; the importance of sources of information being relevant, reliable and credible;  different categories of research: exploratory, descriptive , analytical and predictive)

vii)   Students should be encouraged to undertake practical business orientated exercises such as making meeting minutes of short role play meetings.

viii)   Students could be given the task in tutorial time to find specific information from the library including both printed and electronically stored information / information held in academic data bases that can be assessed via the library.

E: Research skills Part 2

i)   Understand and be able to explain each of the following approaches to research: (deductive; inductive; positivistive; phenomenological; a combined approach)

ii)  Understand and apply a range of research methodologies including: (positivistic methodologies and the advantages and disadvantages of each; Phenomenological methodologies and the advantages and disadvantages of each)

iii)  Understand and be able to explain the importance the following when undertaking research: (ethical issues ;confidentiality)

iv)  Understand the need for sampling and to be able to devise an appropriate sample using the following methods: (Probability sampling; Non probability sampling)

v)   Understand and be able to appropriately apply / implement the following data gathering methods: (interviews – structured, semi structured and unstructured; questionnaires – email, postal, telephone; group discussions, focus groups)

F: Research skills Part 3

i)   Design a questionnaire that: (makes use of both open and closed questions; is clearly worded; unambiguous; avoids leading questions; contains clear interviewer instructions; contains an appropriate welcome / introduction; contains an appropriate ending statement)

ii)   Be able to present research findings using a range of appropriate techniques including: reports, pie charts, bar charts, graphs and diagrams.

iii) Be able to devise a research plan including a timing schedule for and details of: (the field(s) of interest; details of preliminary / background reading; research proposal; research objective(s); research approach; research methodology;  design of chosen methodology / methodologies i.e. questionnaire;  sampling method and size;  information gathering; information analysis; report writing)

iv)  Students should be encouraged to undertake a basic primary research project including establishing research objectives, devising an appropriate sample, writing a questionnaire and analyzing the results.

G: Plagiarism and Harvard Referencing

i)    To introduce about references, how to reference and thereby avoid plagiarism.

ii)   Understand the reason to reference within both academic assignments and business reports.

iii)    Understand the need for both academic and non-academic references.

iv)  Understand the need for all references to be relevant and reliable.

v)   Understand and be able to explain what is meant by plagiarism, why it is seen as academic misconduct and the associated penalties.

vi)    To be able to identify plagiarism.

vi)   Understand and be able to apply the Harvard Referencing system to a range of sources of information including: (Books, book chapters; Ebooks and Ejournals; Translated books; Journals; Newspaper articles – printed and online; Secondary references; Personal or organisational web sites; On line documents; Blogs; Twitter; Conference papers ; Reports ;Unpublished interviews)

v)    Students should be encouraged to practice their referencing skills and be given practical exercises relating to identifying plagiarism

H: Numerical Analysis

i)    To introduce students to the importance of working with numbers and to enable them to do so confidently.

ii)   Understand and be able to demonstrate a range of ways of working with numbers including: (interpreting numeric information within text, charts, graphs and / or tables; identifying what is significant, relevant, valid and reliable within numerical information;  analysing research findings;  identifying trends; undertaking calculations including: totals, averages, percentages)

iii)   Understand the purpose of and be able to calculate and compare: (totals; multiplication ; averages; mean; median; fractions; percentages; percentages from fractions)

iv)  Understand the need to and be able to round numbers up and down.

v)   Understand, explain and identify if data is: (based on estimates; up to date;  likely to change; accurate; reliable; appropriate)

vi)   Understand the purpose of and be able to analyse, interpret and present information in the following forms: (tables; charts; graphs (bar, scatter, line); pie charts)

vii)  Students should be given a range of information to develop their numerical skills in terms of calculation and analysis

Course Outline

I: Teamwork

i)    To introduce students to the benefits of working with others and how to effectively work within a team or group.

ii)   Explain the circumstances in which students may be required to work in teams / groups including: (Seminars; Tutorials; Project work; Study support networks; Revision Groups; Course work )

iii)  Explain the benefits of working in teams / groups including: (Improve your critical thinking skills; Improve your creative thinking skills; Appreciate others’ perspectives; Access to wider experience base; Motivation; Support; Share ideas and experiences; Learn to cope with challenge; Learn to cope with criticism; Help to clarify your thoughts and ideas ;Learn leadership skills; Learn how to work as part of a team / group )

iv)  Understand the nature and impact of both positive and negative body language and to be able to give examples of both.

v)    Understand the phases of group development: (Tuckman’s four stages of group development: forming, storming, norming and performing)

vi)  Understand how to be an effective team / group member including: (Being supportive; Listening to others; Being encouraging; Making constructive suggestions; Giving criticism constructively; Receiving criticism constructively; Dealing with problems constructively; Giving praise; Being prepared to compromise; Keeping promises; Working cooperatively)

vii)  Understand Belbin’s team role types and the importance of a good balance of roles to the success of a team.

viii)  Understand how to build an effective team including: (Agreeing ground rules including; Agreeing the team / groups objective(s) ; Identifying team members strengths and weaknesses; Agreeing how task will be allocated; Identifying key roles such as Team / Group Leader, Chairperson and Minute taker; Agreeing how and who to appoint to key roles; Agreeing how often the team / group should meet; Agreeing a meeting schedule; Agreeing how meetings should be minuted; Agreeing meeting agenda’s; Agreeing a project plan)

ix)  Understand how to deal with difficulties including: (A team member not keeping their promises; Individuals dominating the group; Unfair treatment; Discrimination; A team member not respecting the team’s / group’s ground rules)

x)   Students should be allocated to the groups they will be working with for their group presentation assessment. Students should be given the opportunity to apply their learning from this session when developing their assessed presentation.

J: Presentation skills

i)   To introduce students to the skills required for effective presentations.

ii)  Explain the importance of being able to prepare and delivery effective presentations including: (The role of presentations in student life; The role of presentations in academic assessments; The requirement for presentations in business including using new media such as web casts / webinars)

iii)  Explain the importance of clarifying the requirements for a presentation including: (The objective(s) of the presentation; The topic of the presentation; Any specific material that should be included / incorporated; The marking scheme that will be used to assess the presentation; The audience; The date and time of the presentation; The expected duration of the presentation; The equipment that will be provided; The room layout; If it is a group or individual presentation; If in a group presentation if all members of the group must present; Any other relevant information; If you are able to ask for further advice; If you are able to submit a draft of the presentation for comment; Dress code for presenters)

iv)  Students should understand the importance of presentations being well structured including: (the need to be clear about the main purpose of the presentation and the key concepts to be included; the need to inform the audience of the expected duration of the presentation and whether questions will be answered during or at the end of the presentation; the importance of a clear introduction; the need to clearly link the concepts / ideas being introduced; the need to clearly identify when handing over to another presenter; the importance of a clear conclusion / summary)

v)   Students should understand how to design effective presentation slides and speaker notes including: (the importance of using an appropriately large type face; the need to make good use of graphics; avoiding overuse of effects such as sound effects, animation)

vi)   Students should understand and be able to apply good practice including: (arriving at the venue in good time; allowing time to check the room; timing rehearsals; relaxing; have some water available; make eye contact with the audience; not speaking too quickly; speaking loudly enough for the audience to hear you; saying what you are going to say, say it and then say that you’ve said it; allowing time for question and answers; using the slides / the speaker notes as prompts, not reading from them)

vii)  Students should understand the importance of feedback and how to design an appropriate feedback form.

viii)  Students should be given the opportunity to put the learning from this session in practice to develop their assessed group presentation.

K: Examinations and Revision techniques

i)   To introduce students to a range of techniques to help them prepare for and sit examinations.

ii)   Understand and be able to apply a range of memory aids including: (repetition; mnemonics; active listening; note taking)

iii)   Understand and be able to explain the four stages of the memory process: (receiving information; retaining information; encoding information including:

o using the environment, association, motor memory, auditory memory, visual memory, pyramids, patterns, pictures, chunking information; recalling information)

iv)   Understand and explain stress and the benefits of some degree of stress

v)    Understand and explain the importance of: (relaxing and be able to apply a range of relaxation techniques; sleep; exercise; taking care of yourself ;  monitoring your feelings ; managing your time)

vi)   Understand and be able to compile: (a revision timetable)

v)    Understand the importance of and be able to demonstrate the ability to: (review past examination papers; practice answering examination questions under examination conditions; devise an examination approach including the use of answer plans / rough outline; devise a timing plan allowing time to read the question at the beginning and to check your answers at the end write a sufficiently detailed answer in the time available; present answers clearly and concisely; answer questions directly; make good use of headings and sub heading)

vi)   Understand and be able to prepare and complete an examination checklist including: (how many exams they will be sitting; where and when they will be sitting them; the materials they can take into each examination;  what information they need to take with them, for example identity cards; the format and structure of each examination; a timing plan for each examination; if any mock examination opportunities are available; planning a good night’s sleep and relaxation)

vii)   Understand a range of common examination problems and methods of overcoming them including: (arriving on the wrong day / at the wrong time / at the wrong place a) complete an examination checklist; answering the question students wish they had been asked a)  read the question thoroughly, highlighting key words b) making a brief answer plan / outline answer ;  spending too long on one question a) making and applying a timing plan ; not revising a) making and applying a revision plan; not preparing  a) making and applying a revision plan and an examination checklist; not answering the required number of questions a) being familiar with the format of the examination; answering too many questions a) being familiar with the format of the examination; not using the required format a) allowing time within the timing plan to read the question(s) and highlight key words

Reflective skills

i)   To introduce students to a range of reflective practices and given them the opportunity to reflect on their personal development during the course of the module.

ii)   Understand and be able to apply reflective practices including: ( Gibbs Framework for reflection / Gibbs reflective cycle; Borton’s Framework guiding reflective activities.)

iii)  Students should be given the opportunity to review their personal development plans and all previous assessments in order to reflect on their development and plan their development needs for the future.


Assessment - Group Presentations